Model-based Engineering Dominates Software-Centric Systems Conference

I attended the online edition of Software-Centric Systems Conference (SC2) today. Although I prefer the networking and social aspects of a physical conference, it was nice to enjoy these presentations from the comfort of my couch.

It was interesting to see that most of the conference presentations were related to domain-specific languages (DSLs) in one way or another. There were also presentations about model-based testing and digital twinning. I am not sure if model-based engineering was an intentional theme, or if this is just what is considered interesting in software-centric systems in the Netherlands for the moment. However, this suggests that the applied research into model-based design methodologies done by ESI (TNO) together with its industrial eco-system is highly relevant.

A highlight for myself was the two presentations about the Component Modelling and Analysis (ComMA) DSL. This is not only because it relates to my research on evolvable interfaces, but also because of the main message that the industry can achieve a lot through open innovation in areas that are not their core business, such as specification, verification, and evolution of software interfaces. Great news that ComMA will become open-source in 2021!

DYNAMICS Project in Keynote at Software-Centric Systems Conference

Two months ago, I mentioned that Bits & Chips had published an article about the ComMA (Component Modelling and Analysis) language and how it is being used in Philips and Thales to address challenges related to integration and evolution. The latter part, about semi-automatic detection and correction of interface incompatibilities as interfaces evolve is the topic of the DYNAMICS project, a research project between ESI (TNO) and Thales. This joint story, where two companies from different domains together presented their challenges and how it was addressed by technology developed by ESI was much appreciated by Bits & Chips and was invited as a keynote at the Software-Centric Systems Conference (SC2), which takes place on Thursday November 5. If you are interested in hearing this keynote, please register for the event. All presentations are also available on-demand after the event in case you cannot attend in real time.

Design Methodologies for Cyber-physical Systems

In this short two minute presentation, I introduce myself and my fundamental and academic research into design methodologies for cyber-physical systems. I sketch a high-level view of the problem and outline a direction based on model-based engineering in which my previous work into domain-specific languages and analysis non-functional behavior fits. For a more elaborate description of my research, please have a look at my research page.

Back from MODELS 2019

After six days in Munich I have now left the MODELS 2019 conference. It has been an intense couple of days with three days of workshops and tutorials, and three days of main conference. Both the technical and social aspects of the conference were exceptionally well-organized, so kudos to the men and women who worked hard to make that happen.

The four main highlights at the conference for me were:
1. Presenting our paper “Towards Continuous Evolution through Automatic Detection and Correction of Service Incompatibilities” at the MODCOMP workshop. Discussions with conference participants about Petri Net transformations have given inspiration for how to formally work with more complex service behaviors than we do in our work on service-oriented architectures today.

2. A tutorial on StateCharts that improved my understanding of a model-of-computation I will be teaching at the University of Amsterdam in the near future. Thanks to Simon van Mierlo, Hans Vangheluwe, and Axel Terfloth for organizing this tutorial and for sharing their excellent material.

3. Meeting and discussing with representatives from BMW, Daimler, MAN, Continental, TTTech, and other automotive companies and hear more about automotive trends towards centralization of computation, first through domain controllers and then further towards integration of domains in automotive “supercomputers”. It was also interesting to see that the automotive industry is showing interest in service-oriented architectures as a paradigm for their platforms. In fact, a paper entitled “Model-Based Resource Analysis and Synthesis of Service-Oriented Automotive Software Architectures” from BMW got the Best Paper Award on the Practice and Innovation track for work in this direction. This confirms our belief that our current applied research on service-oriented architectures in the defense domain can be generalized to other domains.

4. Meeting and talking to people from both Flanders Make and CETIC, which are the Flemish and Wallonian equivalents of ESI (TNO). It was interesting to talk to them and learn about how what we do is similar and different, both in terms of technical scope and business models.

I hope to return to the MODELS conference again next year to present more of our work and have another opportunity to discuss with and learn from top academics and industrialists in the area of model-based engineering.

Paper Acccepted at ModComp 2019

Our paper “Towards Continuous Evolution through Automatic Detection and Correction of Service Incompatibilities” has been accepted at the 6th International Workshop on Interplay of Model-driven and Component-Based Software Engineering (ModComp). ModComp takes place in September and is co-located with the MODELS conference in Munich.

The paper describes applied research from an industrial ESI project with goal of enabling continuous evolution of software in service-oriented architectures through automatic detection and correction of service incompatibilities. Towards this, the paper has three main contributions: 1) the state-of-the-art in the areas of specification of service interfaces, and detection and correction of incompatible service interactions is surveyed, 2) directions for a methodology to detect and correct incompatible interactions that is currently under development are discussed, and 3) the methodology is discussed in the context of a simplified industrial case study from the defense domain.

Impressions from the ESI Symposium

The ESI Symposium took place on April 9 in the Auditorium of Eindhoven University of Technology. The theme this year was “Intelligence, the next challenge in system complexity?” and featured keynotes from Edward Lee (Professor, UC Berkley) and Henk van Houten (CTO and Head of Research for Royal Philips).  The event was visited by some 300 participants, with a good balance between academia and industry. For those of you who could not attend, feel free to read about the program on the ESI website, and look at the video below for an impression of the event.

Book Chapter Published by Elsevier

I am pleased to announce that our chapter “Reducing Design Time and Promoting Evolvability using Domain-specific Languages in an Industrial Context” has been accepted for publication in the Elsevier book “Model Management and Analytics for Large Scale Systems“.

This work is the result of an industrial ESI project addressing the need for new methodologies to reduce development time, simplify customization, and improve evolvability of complex software systems. The chapter explains how these challenges are addressed by an approach to model-based engineering (MBE) based on domain-specific languages (DSLs). However, applying the approach in industry has resulted in 5 technical research questions, namely how to: RQ1) achieve modularity and reuse in a DSL ecosystem, RQ2) achieve consistency between model and realizations, RQ3) manage an evolving DSL eco-system, RQ4) ensure model quality, RQ5) ensure quality of generated code. The five research questions are explored in the context of the published state-of-the-art, as well as practically investigated through a case study from the defense domain.

New Position at TNO-ESI

Today, I started a new position as a Research Fellow at Embedded Systems Innovation by TNO (TNO-ESI) in Eindhoven. TNO-ESI is a leading Dutch research group for high-tech embedded systems design and engineering. It has a close cooperation with high-tech industry, as well as a strong association with fundamental research of academia, both national and international. This means I am now transitioning to applied science in an industrial setting and I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that entails.

I want to thank the good people a CISTER for the time I have spent with the unit. I find it a very nice place to work with good researchers and a friendly atmosphere. I appreciate the intellectual freedom I had to pursue my ideas and interests, as well as the interesting collaborations and growth opportunities I got sucked into. I hope we will have the pleasure of working together again in the future.